Sects of Islam:
- The Sunnis:
from sunna (tradition or custom), those who adhere to the standard practice
(understod to be of the Prophet). Sunnis are the majority of Muslims
and follow four schools of jurisprudence: the Shafi'i, Hanafi, Maliki,
and Hanbali. They accept the legitimacy of both the Umayyads
- The Shiites:
From shia (supporters), those who recognized 'Ali as the only legitimate
imam (political and religious leader) after the Prophet, and rejected
most other caliphs, especially the Umayyads. They developed into several
sects which differed in the number of imams they recognized. Most important
- The Twelvers
Imamis: The majority of Shiites, they recognize twelve
descendants of 'Ali. Most of Iran became Shiite in the sixteenth
century under the Safavids.
- The Ismailis:
Recognize the first six imams, but differ with the Twelvers about
the seventh, Ismail, hence their name.
- The Fatimids:
An Ismaili dynasty whose founder claimed descent from Fatima,
the daughter of the Prophet and wife of 'Ali, and established
a counter-caliphate in Ifriqiya
(909-71), which was later expanded to include Egypt and southern
The new capital city of Egypt established by the Fatimids upon their conquest
of the country in 969 north of Fustat, the old capital.
of Fatimid Mosque Architecture:
- The use of projected portals
and domes over mihrabs for ceremonial
- The use of keel-shaped arches
in porticoes and arcades.
- The profusion of fine stucco
decoration, especially in mihrabs and